University officials say there have been 799 student veterans or their dependents enrolled this year—a jump of more than 70 percent since 2009.
There’s been an increase the number of veterans or their dependents enrolled each year: In 2009, there were 469; in 2010, there were 616; and in 2011, there were 731. An unknown number of veterans also attend without using veterans education benefits.
The university is working to better serve their needs. Last fall, UT established the Task Force in Support of Student Veterans to coordinate resources and link support services for student veterans.
Ashley Blamey, director of the Safety, Environment, and Education (S.E.E.) Center, chairs the task force and says that one of the goals is to help student veterans translate skills used in the military to the classroom. That transition involves everything from developing good study habits to managing the paperwork associated with veterans education benefits.
“Student veterans bring skills and expertise that are assets to the classroom and campus community,” she said. “We look for ways we can help them feel connected and recognized while also acknowledging they may be surrounded by classmates who do not share their same life experience.”
Here are some of the Veterans Day events planned by the task force and other campus organizations:
Now through November 9
- Sign the Board—Faculty, staff, and students who are also military veterans are invited to drop by 209 Student Services Building anytime between 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to sign a board commemorating Veterans Day. The board will be displayed on campus during the National Day of Remembrance on November 12 and at other times throughout the year. The project is a joint effort of Veterans at UTK, the student group for veterans; the Center for the Study of War and Society; and the UT Office of Veterans Affairs, part of the Office of the University Registrar. For more information, contact Regina Lewellyn at 865-974-1500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- “Through a Soldier’s Eye,” a video slide show of photographs collected from veterans, will be exhibited on the second floor of Hodges Library. Professor Baldwin Lee, working with the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy and the Center for the Study of War and Society, has been collecting photos from soldiers and assembling them into an exhibit. The photos also may be published as a book.
- Volunteers Say Thank You—Faculty, staff and students will be given red, white, and blue sticky notes to write “thank you” messages to veterans. Those notes will be posted to a six-foot, two-dimensional model of the word “Volunteer” located on the second floor of Hodges Library. Messages honoring veterans also can be tweeted using the hashtag #ThanksUTVeterans.
- National Day of Remembrance, 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., South Lawn Ayres Hall. The Veterans at UTK student group is in charge of this event, in which the names of veterans who have given their life in military service will be read.
- Moment of Silence and “Taps,” noon – A moment of silence will be held and the Ayres Hall chimes will play “Taps.” This is the first year for this commemoration.
- Medal of Honor Speaker, 10:00 a.m., Carolyn P. Brown University Center Ballroom. Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Col. Bruce Crandall will share his story of heroism. He flew 900 combat missions in Vietnam and helped evacuate many wounded troopers before he was severely wounded himself.
- The Things They Carried discussion at the Common Ground Book Club, 11:30 a.m., in the Commons on the second floor of Hodges Library. The book, written by Tim O’Brien, is a series of stories about a platoon of American soldiers in Vietnam.
- Sixth annual Native American Heritage Night, 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. in the University Center Ballroom. The event will pay tribute to veterans with an emphasis on the involvement of Native Americans in the past and present. It will feature two speakers, Tom Holm from the University of Arizona and Richard Allen of the Cherokee Nation. Both are Vietnam veterans. The event also will include musical performances from the Eastern Band Cherokee Northern Drum Group, Awohali, and a traditional Cherokee dinner provided by the Calhoun family of Cherokee, North Carolina. $20 per person; $10 for veterans and free for students.
While many activities are planned around Veterans Day, the task force works year-round on activities and initiatives, Blamey said.
This fall, the task force initiated Operation Big Orange Engagement. Philip Held and Herb Piercy, both counseling psychology doctoral students, developed three seminars to introduce new student veterans to campus.
The seminars, held in September, in October and on November 1, provided an opportunity for student veterans to connect directly with other veterans and campus administration. Topics included time management, campus resources, adjustment to college and social life, and funding and financial resources.
The task force also has an “Opt-in” system that allows student veterans to provide their name, e-mail address, and other information to get alerts about events of interest to them. To use the “Opt-in” system, register through the SEE Center website.
C O N T A C T :
Ashley Blamey, (865-974-5725, email@example.com)